What are you up to in Hustle?
"I play Phil, who's Albert's patsy for his latest scam. But it turns out that it's not quite as simple as Albert thought, because I've got a brother-in-law who is a very heavy dude, an Eastern European gangster. Suddenly they find themselves biting off a bit more than they can chew. Not from me, but from aforesaid brother-in-law."
Apparently you do some quite convincing heart attack acting in this episode...
"I hope I'm always convincing when I act! But there is a bit of heart attack acting, yes. Because there is a heart attack! I die. Hopefully it's convincing, yes. Hahaha! I've died a couple of times before though."
Is it not traumatic pretending to die?
"About eight or nine years ago I did a film called Asylum, where I got hacked to death by a knife-wielding loony. I enjoyed every minute of it. That's what you do acting for, to do some staggering around in your own blood and gasping for life. It's wonderful and cathartic."
So you do enjoy that? I think I'd find it quite upsetting to pretend to die.
"Well, you're not an actor, hahaha! Actors love to act all those death scenes. You watch other people and think it's a bit OTT. Then you do it yourself and go even more OTT!"
Were you a fan of Hustle beforehand?
"It's one of those series, because I've been working in theatre a lot the last few years, that I've mostly missed. I think I've seen the odd one and enjoyed it. But if you miss the beginning of something, you tend not to watch it. There's whole series of things I've missed out on, like Six Feet Under and The West Wing, which everybody says are wonderful."
Have you ever been conned yourself in real life?
"No. I suppose I've had the odd job where they've said 'it's about to go to the West End', then you've schlepped round the provinces and it's not gone to the West End. Is that a con? I don't know. The odd builder has come along, given me a price for a job then it's ended up more. Then you realise afterwards they always knew it was going to be more. But that kind of goes with the territory, doesn't it?"
Moving on to Doctor Who, do you think it was the right time for David Tennant to leave?
"That's entirely up to him. I think in his case, possibly, because he's shown every side of being highly employable in its aftermath. He's a very fine actor and from what I've seen of his Doctor, he's been superb. I think whenever he went, it would have been fine because he's good enough."
What do you think of the new regime? I've read a few interviews recently where you've been very complimentary of Steven Moffat.
"I hadn't realised, until I checked, that the stories I liked best are the ones he's written. 'The Doctor Dances' and 'Blink' were both written by him. So if the series continues in that vein it can only get better. The level of scriptwriting over the last couple of years has been superb. And he understands, in the same way that Roald Dahl did, just how far you can go in frightening children. They wanted to be scared! All those fairy stories about wolves eating little girls, you wouldn't get writers doing that these days, but that's the level of imagination young children have and they need to use those stories to get their imaginations going."
There are always rumours of a new multi-Doctor story. Have you ever heard anything about that?
"We oldies together? No, not a word. Haven't had a single approach from anyone connected to Doctor Who about doing anything. Not even going along to watch an episode of it, never mind being in one. So I think the likelihood is very small."
Would you be keen to do it?
"I take every job on its merits. I'm not not keen, nor am I sitting here waiting for the call. It's so unlikely to happen that I don't spend much time thinking about it. I don't look the same. I started playing the part 25 years ago! Peter [Davison] does still look pretty much like he did then, but not me. I suspect I could play a part in the new series without you even knowing it was me!"
Hustle airs tonight at 9pm on BBC One. BONUS TREAT TIME: Click 'play' below for a very special introduction to the episode, courtesy of Adrian Lester:
What do you think to the possibility of a new multi-Doctor story? Is it something you'd want to see? Or a fanw**k too far? Add your comments to this entry below!